It is estimated that throughout both World Wars, the Ministry of Munitions employed around a million female munitions workers in thousands of arms factories. These women played a crucial role in Britain’s strategy of “total war”, especially after Britain’s Shell Crisis in 1915.
Using archive material from Midlands collections as well as from the Imperial War Museum, Šerpytytė has examined the relationship between images of the female factory workforce, widely publicised as part of a political propaganda project to boost morale, and the images, accounts and ephemera that tell the largely hidden and forgotten story of the so-called ‘munitionettes.’ In this unique installation the artist uses vases made in the trenches from spent shells as a way to explore the complex relationship between domesticity, ornament, labour, class, gender, war and trauma. The work explores the objects and materials of war.
The project was commissioned by GRAIN Projects and is supported by Arts Council